- Photo: Perry Nordeng/ESS
MIC Nordic at ESS:
Creating a stable and reliable communication platform in a highly complex facility
What is now emerging just outside the town of Lund, Sweden, is a unique facility for materials research. The vision behind the European Spallation Source (ESS) is to build and operate the world’s most powerful neutron source, enabling scientific breakthroughs in research related to materials, energy, health, and the environment.
The facility can be compared to a gigantic microscope, where neutrons are used to analyze samples at the atomic and molecular level. It is one of the largest science and technology infrastructure projects being built today. As from 2027 researchers from all over the world will carry out research at ESS to address some of the most important societal challenges of our time.
Stable and reliable communication is – of course – a crucial part of such a facility.
But how do you achieve that?
When ESS contacted MIC Nordic in 2016, we first had to decide what should be expected of a complete solution. In close cooperation with ESS we created a technical requirements specification, based on defined user scenarios provided by ESS. We soon realized that we faced a complex challenge.
ESS is a large facility – it covers 95,000 square metres – with a complicated architecture and with essential parts underground. That alone poses a challenge when it comes to mobile coverage. In addition, ESS staff will work here together with visiting researchers and other visitors – all with different needs to communicate within the facility. But even that’s not all – for safety and security reasons the rescue services and other blue light authorities must be able to communicate in the entire ESS facility.
In close collaboration with ESS and other partners, we concluded that in the case of an emergency ESS would need a critical communications system, RAKEL, and the rescue service a smoke diver radio. To ensure the staff’s need for robust voice communication the choice fell on a private Tetra system, DAMM, supplied by Northcom.
Naturally ESS also needs cellular communication for GSM and LTE. This was solved by off air-repeaters for Telia and Tre as well as a base station for ESS:s agreed operator Telenor (Net4Mobility).
This resulted in a technical description for all wireless communication to be implemented in the ESS facilities. The system contains a broadband passive distributed antenna system in each property, DAS, which is fed by 14 digital 4-band remotes from Bird.
Two redundant base station environments, MASTER-sites, provide the 14 digital remotes with signals via ESS:s own fibre network.
The system is now in operation, and we can see that the different radio technologies interact well in the facility, with high reliability and performance. ESS staff and visitors can communicate independent of operator, the rescue services have full access to their emergency systems, while ESS has its own systems for operation and maintenance.
We are very happy to be part of the ESS project and proud of the solution we have been able to deliver.